Film Review -Mad, Mad Buddies
Venue: Kine 3, Ster Kinekor, Maerua Mall
Director: Gray Hofmeyer
Screenplay:Leon Schuster,Gray Hofmeyer
Cast: Leon Schuster, Kenneth Nkosi, Alfred Ntombela, Tanit Phoenix
Rating: * * * * *
Twenty years ago having a black and white guy on an adventure together would have turned a few heads and caused quite a stir, but it is the classic combination for most buddy movies like, the eighties flick ‘See no evil, hear no evil’. Mad buddies is Leon Schuster’s conventional story about sworn enemies, Boetie (Schuster) and Beast (Nkosi) who are forced to embark on a road trip as unwitting subjects of a new TV reality show. The pair hits the road begrudgingly, each determined not to help the other in any way, shape or form. However, when it becomes apparent that they’ve been conned by Kelsey (Tanit Phoenix) who had a hidden agenda for bringing them together, they decide to put aside their mutual hatred to get their revenge. Unbeknown to them, the whole of South Africa is in on the joke
The film starts with Schuster and Nkosi, who is then a cop, in a chase when they suspect one another of being poachers. This leads to a gun fight that leaves Boetie short of a big toe and Beast running for his life with a lion in tow. The two meet again at Minister Mda’s (Ntombela) daughter’s wedding where they cause havoc which leads to their arrest. They are given a simple choice by ambitious TV exec Kelsey. Rot in jail or set off cross-country on a 500km walking road trip to Johannesburg.
Mad buddies fits a similar profile to There’s a Zulu On My Stoep (Schuster’s 1993 comedy about two South African boys, one white, one black, who were best friends but become sworn enemies when the white boy shoots a can off his black friends head at the request of his American girlfriend. The film also has some elements of the Gods must be Crazy. Mad buddies has two charming co-leads, they have good chemistry but not the politics as compared to Schuster and John Matshikiza in There is a Zulu On My Stoep. Most of the gimmicks in the film do not have the same effect but it is a step in the right direction after Schuster’s last movie Schuks Tshabalala’ Survival Guide to South Africa.
The film is heartwarming though, but the characters could have been given more depth. Schuster plays the usual ordinary, middle-aged white guy with a few tricks up his sleeve, while Nkosi glides into Schuster’s world defining himself in the manic and over-the-top brand of humour without difficulty. It is not the funniest of Schuster’s movies, but it is watchable. Most of the scenes are predictable as the characters are reduced to mock-life caricatures in a Tom and Jerry dynamic.
This time Ntombela plays the silly tourism minister Mda, who desperately tries to leverage the reality TV show. He manages to make the audience laugh and steals every scene with his infectious and witty laugh, larger than life personality and does his own stunt work where he gets stuck in a recliner and drops a heavy statue on his foot.. Up-coming actress Tanit Phoenix plays a femme fatale whose sole ambition is to seduce the co-leads into continuing their mission and ensuring her reality show’s success.
Schuster and long time director Gray Hofmeyer co-wrote the Mad Buddies script which took about 18 months to write. It is original with new jokes and stunts such as, “Listen buddy somewhere down there’s a dead poacher, but you can have this for a starter,” when Schuster throws his toe at a hyena. It may seem like a low budget South African version of Dumb and Dumber or a much better version of Nollywood’s ‘Aki and Popo’ but overall I liked it, Its over the top, ostrich riding, rake and falling down gags aside, it’s a winning formula comedy that doesn’t take itself or anyone too seriously.